Page:Yule Logs.djvu/175

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159
A DANGEROUS GAME

colour as all that could be seen of a very hairy face—mahogany.

"Thankye," shouted Lance, turning off to the left, and the big man folded his arms again and looked seaward, the others not having stirred.

Lance's turn to the left led him to a steep descent all zigzag—a way to the shore that a stranger would have attacked like a bear and gone down backwards; but Lance was no stranger, and the precipitous nature of the way did not deter him, for he descended in a series of jumps from stone to stone, till he finished with a drop of about ten or a dozen feet into a bed of sand lying at the mouth of a wave-scooped hollow, from which came strange moans and squeaks, the latter painfully shrill, the former deepening at times into a roar.

The said stranger would have imagined that a person had fallen from the cliff and was lying somewhere below, badly broken and wanting help; but there was nothing the matter. It was only Hezz, or more commonly "Hezzerer," in three syllables, and he had been busy at work putting a patch on the bottom of a clumsy upturned boat which, as he put it, "lived in the cave," and he was now daubing his new patch with hot tar from a little threelegged iron kettle held in his left hand.

But this does not account for the groans and squeaks. These were produced from the youth's throat. In fact, Hezz was singing over his work, though it did not sound very musical at the time, for something was broken; but it was only Hezz's voice, and it was only the previous night that Old Poltree, his father, had said to Billy Poltree, another of the big fisherman's offspring, "Yo' never know wheer to have him now, my son: one minute he's hoarse as squire's Devon bull, and next he's letting go like the pig at feeding time."

At the sound of the dull thuds made by Lance's feet in the sand, Hezz Poltree whisked himself round and